Hepatitis

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    If you've been diagnosed with acute hepatitis B, which is a short-term infection, you should get well with rest, good nutrition, and fluids. If your condition fails to improve within the time expected (usually a few weeks but no more than 6 months), you may have developed chronic hepatitis B and should call your doctor. If you have been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B, you should see your doctor regularly to check your liver and make sure any treatments you're taking are working. For most people, this means seeing your doctor 1 to 2 times a year. But you may need to see your doctor more often, depending on your condition. You should also call your doctor right away if you become pregnant or think you might be pregnant. If you have any of these signs or symptoms of liver damage or liver cancer, see your doctor right away:
    • Weight loss
    • Loss of appetite
    • Yellowish skin or eyes
    • Itching
    • Swelling, pain or feelings of fullness in your stomach area
    • Weakness
    • Muscle cramps
    • Confusion or other changes in your mood
    • Sleep problems
    • Vomiting blood or having very dark (bloody) bowel movements
    • Menstrual changes in women
    • Sexual symptoms in men, such as being unable to have an erection or developing breasts
    • Spider veins
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    How long a course of treatment for hepatitis C takes depends on a few factors, including the type of the virus (genotype) you have, whether you’ve developed scarring of the liver (called cirrhosis) and whether you have been treated for the infection unsuccessfully before. In general, treatment typically ranges from 8 weeks to 48 weeks. The treatment is usually shortest in people who don’t have cirrhosis and haven’t been treated before.
     
    There are six genotypes of the hepatitis C virus. The combination of medications used to treat the infection and the time to complete treatment vary for each genotype. Researchers are testing drug regimens that can shorten the treatment time to as little as 8 weeks in some people. 
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    Infectious hepatitis A is a food- or water-borne disease (sometimes fatal) that attacks the liver. Immunization fully protects against the disease and should be taken by nearly all international travelers.

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    The most common screening test for detecting hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a blood test that searches for the presence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). The presence of this antigen (a foreign molecule capable of inducing a protective response from the body) shows that a hepatitis B viral infection is present or that vaccination against HBV has been successful.

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    Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that usually is caused by one of the five hepatitis viruses (A-E), and it is almost always the B virus. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection can cause acute or chronic hepatitis that in turn produces anything from a minor flu-like illness to fatal liver failure. Acute hepatitis begins suddenly and lasts only a few weeks. It usually resolves after 4 to 8 weeks, even without treatment. Hepatitis B becomes chronic in 5% to 10% of infected people. Chronic hepatitis, which is much less common than the acute form, by definition lasts at least 6 months and can persist for decades. It usually is quite mild and doesn't produce any symptoms or significant liver damage. Sometimes, however, continued inflammation causes cirrhosis (liver damage with scarring) and liver failure.

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    Some groups are at a higher risk of hepatitis A virus infection: certain groups of Alaskan Natives, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans; those who are institutionalized and workers at those institutions; men who have sex with men; users of intravenous drugs; certain laboratory workers; some religious communities; and people who travel to countries where hepatitis A virus is common.

    Hepatitis A virus infection is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. This condition is transmitted in stool and usually is the result of poor hygiene or contaminated water or food. The disease is much more common in developing countries than the United States. Although these infections usually clear up without treatment, liver failure and even death sometimes can occur.

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    Hepatitis A and hepatitis B can both be prevented with vaccines. Cases of hepatitis A have dramatically declined in the United States over the past 20 years largely due to vaccination efforts. The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children at one year of age and for adults who may be at increased risk.

    Unfortunately, many people became infected with hepatitis B before the hepatitis B vaccine was widely available. The hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants at birth and for adults who may be at increased risk.

    The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.
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    Some population groups are disproportionately affected by viral hepatitis-related liver cancer. The number of new cases of liver cancer is highest in Asian and Pacific Islanders and is increasing among African Americans, baby boomers, and men.

    With early detection, many people can get lifesaving care and treatment that can limit disease progression and prevent cancer deaths.

    The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.
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    Hepatitis B and hepatitis C can become chronic, lifelong infections. Chronic viral hepatitis can lead to serious liver problems, including liver cancer. Between 3-5 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis B or chronic hepatitis C in the United States, but most do not know they are infected.

    Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C can cause liver cancer and have contributed to the increase in rates of liver cancer in recent decades. At least half of new cases of liver cancer are from chronic hepatitis C.

    The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.
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    If you suffered from Hepatitis B or C prior to receiving your new liver, it is possible to experience a recurrence of the virus after transplantation. Fortunately, antiviral therapy can protect the new liver against hepatitis B recurrence in nearly all cases. To help identify and control any recurrence, you will be screened with blood tests and liver biopsies at regular intervals. If recurrence is detected, medications will be prescribed.